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The whole business of credit card processing and merchant accounts can seem complicated, especially to the uninitiated.

If it’s your first time signing your business up for credit card processing services, there is a lot of information for your business to go through. While Helcim provides plenty of pricing information on our website, not all credit card processors are as transparent. Some processors actually count on you not understanding all the credit card processing fees in order to protect their profits. We’ve put together six things you might not know about your credit card processing fees, so you can be more informed about how credit card processing fees work.

1. Card Brand fees vary

When it comes to payment processing, not all credit cards are the same. If you have a customer who is paying with a Premium, Privilege or Corporate card, then the transaction will have higher fees associated with it compared to customers who pay with a standard consumer credit card. Generally, the fancier the reward card, the more it will likely cost to process the transaction, while a customer who uses a debit card will have the lowest processing fees. You can see a breakdown of the different card brand fees on Helcim’s pricing page, along with the popularity of the different card brands.

2. Registered Charities qualify for lower rates

If you run a registered charity or non-profit, then you may qualify for lower payment processing rates. Be sure to ask your credit card processor if they offer special rates for charities. While Visa and Mastercard do offer a special interchange rate category for charities, not all payment processors will pass the savings on to their merchants, so it’s important to check directly with them. Helcim has put together a helpful guide on everything you need to know about non-profit credit card processing to get your business started.  

3. The more you process, the less you pay

Did you know that with interchange plus pricing, your average transaction rate will decrease as the monthly volume of transactions you process increases? This means that as your business grows, you will be rewarded with lower credit card processing rates. If you want to see how the rates vary for different transaction amounts you can use Helcim’s Find You Credit Card Processing Rate tool on our pricing page.

4. Understanding Interchange

The interchange fee is what the credit card company charges for processing a credit card transaction. The fee is set by Visa and Mastercard and is affected by how the credit card is processed, the type of business you’re running, and what type of credit card was used for the transaction. For more details check out our FYI on what is interchange.

5. Online transactions cost more than in-person transactions

Just like how the card brand affects the cost of the transaction, so does how the transaction is processed. Payments taken over the phone or entered online will usually cost more than swiped transactions in person. Whenever you’re processing a payment where the customer and card are not present, it will most likely cost a little bit more, because the risk of fraud is higher. You can compare the difference in prices between online (keyed) transactions and card-present transactions on Helcim’s pricing page.

6. Subscriptions are less costly to process

If your business employs a recurring payment or subscription-based model, your interchange fees will likely be lower. This is because, in this billing structure, the cards being charged are often stored on file and are being charged multiple times, therefore lowering the risk of fraud. Check out our article Did You Know Recurring Payments Get Lower Credit Card Processing Rates for more information.

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